The Blue Note, Milan, has hosted the Angels in Harlem Gospel Choir from Boxing day to New Year’s eve for the last 8 years so I thought it was time to see why the event is so popular. The Angels in Harlem Gospel Choir is the older touring arm of the Harlem Gospel Choir which is about as big as it gets for such things. The touring groups always performs on stage with a format of nine singers and two musicians (keyboards and drums), their being 65 members to the HGC. So as well as a sold out crowd, the stage is packed too, everyone dressed in black and orange, all with expressive smiling faces.

This is one of two shows tonight as is the Blue Note way, and this section has a xmas theme as expected and surprisingly, at least for me, songs of Beyonce. Things can tend to go a bit ‘Vegas’ with,yes, perfect performances, be they of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ and ‘Love on Top’ or ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and ‘Silent Night’ but a bit too routine and set.

It’s really only when, as one singer indeed says, “Let’s take it to church”, that one gets a glimpse of something like pure grace, of a spirituality that abounds, with joyful voices singing splendidly in unison. One is transported if only for a few bars to their natural environment of a church in Harlem, where praising the Lord renders their voices ‘heavenly’. So ‘Go Tell It Round The Mountain’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ are a real treat and if your God is Jesus or indeed ‘Beyonce, it matters not, because whatever uplifts the human soul must be a good thing.

‘Oh Happy Day’ ends proceedings because even Gospel Choirs have a ‘greatest hit’ and with their thank you’s and best wishes for a happy new year, the Angels in Harlem Gospel Choir leave the stage to thunderous applause.

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